Commentary Magazine


Rand Paul Calls for End to Foreign Aid

Sen. Rand Paul appears to be following in his father, Ron Paul’s, footsteps. The newly elected libertarian senator told Wolf Blitzer that he wants the U.S. to end all foreign aid, including aid to Israel, during an interview on Wednesday.

“When you send foreign aid, you actually [send] quite a bit to Israel’s enemies. Islamic nations around Israel get quite a bit of foreign aid, too,” said Paul. “You have to ask yourself, are we funding an arms race on both sides?”

Israel has become increasingly prosperous, and as far back as 1996, at the start of his first term as prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has called for a gradual end to all U.S. economic aid, though the need for military assistance has, if anything, become more imperative since then.

And it’s not unreasonable to say that the criteria for countries receiving foreign aid should be reviewed. But it’s utterly wrong to say that cutting off foreign aid completely would somehow benefit the United States and its allies.

The U.S. doesn’t give financial assistance to foreign countries out of a moral imperative; it does so because these contributions support U.S. national-security interests.

Unstable nations that are mired in poverty are more likely to become breeding grounds for terrorist organizations, so foreign aid can help in that regard. More important, foreign aid is an excellent — and relatively cheap way — of purchasing international influence. The U.S. government can provide or withhold financial aid at any time based on a country’s behavior.

Paul clearly hasn’t been able to grasp this concept. While foreign countries may be getting money, what the U.S. gets in return is much more valuable.